BRAINERD, Minn.-A 6,000-pound famed Minnesota attraction-known in folklore for its strength-toppled over during an overnight severe storm early Thursday morning in the region.
Babe the Blue Ox, at Paul Bunyan Land in Brainerd, was put back on his feet later Thursday morning.
"It actually tipped over on its side and the wind continued to blow and it rolled him over onto his back and onto his other side," Adam Rademacher, manager of Paul Bunyan Land, said on WDAY's "Midday Live with Sandy Buttweiler."
"During that whole rolling, it was damaged around the back end. It broke one of his horns off and he was impaled by one of the parking lot posts, I'm assuming. There's a huge hole in his side right now," he said.
Rademacher said Babe has structural damage inside its 24-foot long frame. Plans are in place to repair Babe, he said.
Crews using heavy equipment were able to get Babe upright by 9:35 a.m., Rademacher said. The attraction opened at 10 a.m.
It was one of the many serious damage incidents from a powerful thunderstorm, packing strong winds and heavy rain, that hit parts of the region.
Many of those with damage in the Brainerd lakes area Thursday were the same residents affected by last summer's supercell thunderstorm that generated hurricane-force winds. Thousands were without power Thursday morning with many outages stretching into Thursday afternoon.
Minnesota Power reported the Brainerd lakes area was most impacted by the storm, while the company's Duluth customers were generally not affected. About 4,400 customers were without power in scattered outages across Minnesota Power's service territory. As of 5 p.m. Thursday, that number had been reduced to 3,765 customers.
The hardest-hit areas were near Menahga, East Gull Lake, Nisswa and Round Lake, affecting about 4,200 customers. Early assessments indicate the damage is not as severe or widespread as the July 2015 supercell thunderstorm, with most outages fairly localized. Some power was expected to be restored by 9 p.m. Thursday night.
All available Minnesota Power resources were dispatched to this area, according to a news release, including extra line crews and tree removal and construction crews. Minnesota Power also has called in extra lineworkers from MJ Electric who will help restore power today.
Farther east in MInnesota, several thousand customers were left without power in parts of the Iron Range and Duluth area on Thursday - exactly two weeks after the region saw widespread damage from a line of severe storms.
For some residents, it was the third time in a month - after storms on July 5 and July 21 - that they had lost power because of severe weather during what's been a particularly stormy summer of 2016.
Thursday morning's storms did not produce damage on the scale of the ones that hit on July 21 - but there were a number of trees and power lines down in some parts of the region. The Duluth International Airport recorded a 67 mph wind gust.
"It's funny. I was at the store (Wednesday) looking at a (larger) generator ... but thought, 'What are the chances this storm was going to knock out power again? I can wait.' But I should have bought it while it was staring me in the face, especially when you don't have water," said Bart Ehnes, who lives about 15 miles northwest of Duluth.
In other storm related damage from across the border in North Dakota, tornado sightings, with several area residents catching the events on video, were spotted in the northeast corner near Bisbee and Wolford, both located northwest of Devils Lake. National Weather Service staff were out in the area Thursday to confirm the tornadoes touched down and to survey damage.
"There definitely was a tornado up there, we saw the videos and there was some damage to a farmstead, but no injuries or anything like that," said Dan Riddle, a meteorologist with the weather service's Grand Forks office.